Do I Need a Photography Blog For SEO?

Ah, the photography blog question. I’ve seen this pop up in a few online communities, so I wanted to address a few things about photography blogging, why photographers use it for SEO, and whether or not you really need one in order to boost your results in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Photography Blogs and the SEO Benefits

By nature, our work is visual. The old adage that a photo is worth a thousand words is remarkably true, except when it comes to SEO. Search engines do find value in images (if you optimize your photos for SEO), but words are really what helps them determine context and relevance. Our portfolios and galleries offer a little bit of SEO juice, but nothing like a blog does, where keywords can be used in abundance and the content is updated regularly (or at least often enough, in some cases).

Blogging offers photographers a chance to update copy, apply keyword diversity from keyword research, and use image-based SEO to help in their organic efforts. It’s also a place to show off your talent with the latest photos and help potential clients get a feel for your style, your personality, the way you work, and how you might fit with what they’re looking for.

Another big benefit of having a photography blog is that it provides more link-building opportunities for your site. A part of good SEO is having other reputable websites link (with a DoFollow link) to individual pages and posts on your site. While it can be difficult to get other sites to link to static pages like your galleries or general home page, blog posts usually address one moment or one topic, making them individually applicable to a variety of different audiences. Thus, great content on a blog is much more shareable and linkable. So if you are going the blog route, create thoughtfully.

SEO Basics for Photographers: Keyword Research

For a few reasons, one of my favorite disciplines in digital marketing is SEO. A little self-education in SEO can go a long way, for one. When done well, SEO can help reduce the amount of money you spend on other areas of marketing, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, Facebook Ads, and so on. When I work with photographers, one of the common misconceptions is that SEO is primarily about keywords.

Keywords are an important part of SEO, but they are far from being the biggest component to effective SEO. I think a lot of photographers want to learn more about the practice of SEO, but are overwhelmed by all of the technical jargon. This post is the first in a series I’m calling “SEO Basics for Photographers,” in which I’ll walk you through learning SEO, but with a photography focus. Hopefully being able to see how it works for your business will make SEO a little more valuable and lot easier to tackle.

The Infinite Value of Keyword Research and the Keyword Mistakes Most Photographers Make

Keyword research is one of the best things you can do for your photography business. By diving into keyword research, you will learn which terms and phrases you should be targeting in your SEO, but you can also learn a wealth of information about your customers in the process. You don’t just want people to visit your website, you want the right kind of people to visit your website. It’s better to have 1000 people per month who are highly likely to book with you, than it is to have 10,000 people who might not be the right fit. Keyword research provides business intelligence that can help you make better decisions about what products you’re offering, when to put a certain type of session up for promotion, and what part of your business brings in your ideal clients.

Most the mistakes that photographers make with their keywords are:

  • Aiming to rank for keywords that are too general and broad (“wedding photography,” “senior portraits”)
  • Keywords with too much competition, so it’s fighting an uphill battle
  • Keywords with a search volume that is too low
  • Trying to rank for just one keyword at a time, and not going after multiple themes or keywords

Understanding Where Keywords “Fit” in the SEO Landscape

When it comes to SEO, there are two major areas into which the technical factors fit: on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. On-page SEO factors are things like having properly optimized images, the content on your page, how you link to other parts of your website, and yes, what keywords are used.


Five SEO Scams to Avoid: Red Flags to Watch For When Looking for SEO Help

This article was inspired by a recent post in a photography group to which I belong. The member had just received a call “from Google” and they were being offered a guaranteed ranking on the first page of Google for just $99 per month. She wanted to know if this was a scam, or if that’s something she should do for her SEO. While it might seem obvious that this was a scam, these kind of questions are frequent, and sometimes the proposal sounds just legitimate enough to be worth a try – especially if you’re a photographer who has been struggling with SEO and not really sure what to do next.

There ARE legitimate SEO firms out there, often described in the industry as “White Hat” SEOs, which is to say that they follow the best practices put forth by engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. White Hat SEOs focus on the user experience of search (which is what search engines like anyway). They use tactics that improve your search performance while maintaining the integrity of your website, and as a result, your business.

This post, however, focuses on tactics that are used by “Black Hat” SEOs, the ones who usually offer services for a too-good-to-be-true price or guarantee a certain ranking on search results pages. Knowing the difference between the two is important, if only because Black Hat tactics can get your site banned from search engines altogether, or make it incredibly expensive and time consuming to recover from.

Black Hat SEO Red Flag #1: Guaranteed On Page One of Google

Any agency that guarantees placement at the top of a search engine results pages (SERPs), is one to steer clear of. Reputable agencies know that guaranteeing placement is impossible. Instead, they’ll be the first to tell you that they can’t guarantee a spot. Why? For one, SEO is a constantly evolving medium. It’s impossible to say what changes Google might make to its algorithm in the next month, few months, or year. Search engines don’t usually give out all the details of the change. Instead, good SEOs know that whatever changes are made usually improve the searcher’s user experience, and use tactics they know align with those values, regardless of what changes are made.

camera on keyboard

SEO for Photos: Don’t Overlook Image Optimization

Every time I’m at workshop or networking event and photographers find out that my background includes over a decade of SEO and social media experience, it usually spurs a lot of discussion amongst the group. It starts with one question, which leads to another, and before long, it’s turned into a mini workshop of its own. One thing I have learned from those conversations is that a whole mess of misinformation out there about SEO.

This post is the first in a series that will help get all the basics of SEO in order. Like other aspects of running a business, a proper SEO strategy isn’t something you can “set and forget.” It can be tedious and time consuming, but it’s a vital part of a successful photography marketing strategy.

Depending on what type of website you have, you may have plug-ins or modules that handle some of this for you, or at least make it easier to manage. If you’re a WordPress user, it doesn’t get any better than Yoast SEO. It’s the gold standard and makes SEO management for your entire site EASY.

Photo File Names and SEO

If you’re uploading images that are named something like “DSC_07655,” it is one of the first habits you need to break. Google and other search engines need to know what your photo is about without even seeing it. A generic file name doesn’t do that, so you need to use a descriptive, accurate file name.

Here are a few examples of how to approach file names in some photography categories:

  • Maui-Sunset-Wedding
  • Savannah-Family-Portrait-Session
  • Blue-Ridge-Parkway-Fall-Foliage
  • Notre-Dame-Paris-Sunset
  • Atlanta-GoatFarm-Wedding-Portrait

Local SEO is only growing more important, so it’s helpful to start with the location of the photo. Then be descriptive, keeping in mind the main subject of the photo. File names are not the place to be creative or whimsical. The name of the photo should be factually accurate and specific.